Last year we ran a story on The Bullet: Time of Revenge, a 'new' release on Switch eShop that turned out to be an 'asset flip'; a pre-made and purchased asset pack given a new name and sent along to Nintendo for eShop lotcheck.
While this might rub many people the wrong way, this practice is technically totally legal — the asset kit was purchased from the Unity Asset Store and resold entirely within the limits of the licence terms — and Nintendo certification isn't (and has never been) a test of quality, even when games came with the Nintendo Seal of Quality stamped on them. If the game loads and fulfills a set of basic technical requirements, it's good to go.
It seems that two more asset flip games hit Switch eShop on 8th June: Bring Honey Home and Red Ball Escape, both from Benjamin Kistler.
The Unity Asset Store page for the latter indicates that the template, created and sold there by Fox Games, "is ready for release". Compare the asset pack trailer below to the screenshots on NOA's game page:
And some screenshots from Nintendo's game page:
Youtube channel Star or Shovelware has been running a series called Asset Flip Warning (which contains strong language, so click with caution) looking to make players aware of the origins of these sorts of games.
Red Ball Escape is currently on Switch eShop for $2.99 / £2.60, and Bring Honey Home, a hex-based puzzler, is going for $7.99 / £7.19 and is essentially the asset pack Hexa Puzzle Block wrapped up and sold on Switch. Star or Shovelware fired up the free demo APK of Hexa Puzzle Block and found the first level to be identical to the eShop screenshot for Level 1:
With the Switch eShop awash with quality games lost in the flood, it's disappointing to see these types of cynical releases filling the digital storefront and making the good stuff even harder to find. Hopefully having seen the asset flips above highlighted, you'll be better place to avoid them while browsing the latest indie releases.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the practice in the poll below and in the comments.
Thanks to Dean for the tip!
This is becoming a real problem across Switch, PlayStation, Steam and presumably Xbox as well. Steam at least has a ton of filters to weed out this crap, but the others, Switch especially, are a nightmare.
I said this before, but Nintendo needs to moderate the eShop better than they are presently.
Now I feel challenged to make those kinds of games in Game Builder Garage, just to prove how effortless they are.
Perhaps 'If the game loads and fulfills a set of basic technical requirements, it's good to go' just isn't good enough.
That just leaves consumers hanging out to dry.
I understand the desire for extra curation, but as low quality as these "games" are, their presence indicates a desirable problem — the system is popular. It is best to allow all games of all kinds, but provide ways to help the cream rise to the top.
Bought! That ball one looked good...
@Menardi It is best to allow all games of all kinds, but provide ways to help the cream rise to the top.
Like refunds or reviews?
Shovelware, wether they're asset flips or not, aren't welcome, but if a game is good then I don't care if the assets are free, bought, or made from scratch by the dev.
@Crono1973 Precisely, but also a dynamic, unmanipulated algorithm to increase the visibility of more engaging titles in an organic way, and that could include data from outside the eShop, if they were ambitious on the concept. Obviously with Nintendo, they move at their own pace. The reasoning behind this is because, while many asset flip titles are indeed low quality, many games that happen to also use default assets are not low quality, and it is not a reasonable task from a publishing perspective to accept one but not the other.
Presumably XBox, but nobody owns an Xbox hehe
"Last Month" you mean last year mate?
As long as assets aren't stolen, then I am fine with it. If a game is good, then I don't mind the graphics are re-used. I mean, they repeat the same tree in the latest Gran Turismo lol.
Honestly, digital games take no physical space up anywhere and are very easy to ignore. (Half the reason why I'm not overly keen on the idea of increased visibility - who decides which games become visible.)
Reminds me of those RCMADIAX games during the Wii U days. I very much dislike this practice, even if it is legal and the dev has every right to do so.
By far the worst part of Unity is allowing garbage like these to fill up several online game stores. Nintendo and others really should start to curate these somewhat as the eshop is already a mess with games that have had legimate work done on them buried beneath this filth
@NintendoGamerGuy Months, years… is time even a thing anymore?
Zapped it. Cheers
These are the kind of games I would never play even for free on my smartphone...are there really people that would pay for these to play on their Switch?
It's certainly an eyeroll catalyst, but as long as it's legal, there's little to force - even if some people can't stand dealing with these, only a select few would give up on a platform with the Switch's variety of already well-known and popular originals over this. And Nintendo knows it. Besides, while a low priority, the consumer in me may just treat them as a more probable opportunity to take a curious shot at the Unity templates discussed - after all, I certainly don't see myself installing a bunch of game dev software on the laptop for them.😅 The question of monetary worth? The launch pricetag will likely deflate to a mere fraction of itself in weeks; until then, it will face abundant competition from all the original works eShop offers for that sum during and even outside sales. And I don't need sailormouthed YouTube channels to grant me this knowledge - being inquisitive about a passionate hobby you invest money in is usually enough.
Too bad that's more effort than half the fandom likes to exert, preferring to act like they're living in 1983. Well, tough luck, seems like Nintendo can be lazy about "curating" our hobby for us, too. Ebay is three doors down.😏
@Skunkfish we know it's you, Benjamin Kistler 😉
I don’t care that they exist, but I wish there was an ignore function on the eshop because these types of games are perpetually on sale, and they just clog up the great deals tab with line after line of games with different colored balls going into different colored cups... and there might be spikes! Or a bird!
im now if its not on a cart ffffffffffffffffffff of nintendo. e shop is a disgrace full con men money laundering schemes and asset flips that are both of the previous.
@Orpheus79V Yeah, people really ragged on Steam for letting through all sorts of crap onto Steam, but at least their curation makes the browsing experience much more rewarding, it's much easier to find games that are worth a player's time. The current big three just fart these games onto the system with basic curation that devs can't leverage unless the platform holders bless them with exposure. Otherwise, your game shall simply rot amongst a pile of shovelware.
There are two simple solutions that Nintendo could implement into the eShop to combat this shovelware problem:
1. Bring back the 5-Star user rating system from the Wii U and 3DS eShops (user reviews like on Steam would be ideal, but just ratings would be an acceptable compromise)
2. Allow users the option to block specific publishers (third-parties might object to this, but since the only people who would use this option on any given publisher are people who never had any intention of purchasing from them in the first place, they would realistically not be losing out on any profits from it)
I see nothing Wrong With it.
This asset flipping rubbish is one of the worse things to come out of the whole easy game creation tool revolution.
Imagine if Nintendo released a game that was made by one dude in a few hours, using assets made by people who don't work at Nintendo. They call it "Mario and Luigi: Ball Bros." Next month, Nintendo advertises a brand new game, completely different called "F-Zero: The Dark Curse"
The only difference is that the ball you play as is a different color, it's the exact same game as Mario and Luigi. Both cost money and are "completely different" games
Come on NL, where are the reviews…
I gotta figure out how to get a piece of this action. Seems like an easy way to make money.
This is exactly the kind of thing that nearly tanked the video game industry back in the '80s. The big difference now is it only really impacts indie companies. The big game companies will always be able to afford to be seen.
Red Ball Escape is fun RPG roguelite game, deep combat gameplay and 3D impressive visuals. Many hours of puzzles and intense action gameplay, Red Ball is crazy physics game!!
The e-shop is a wasteland. There needs to be quality control, a review system, and a refund policy. I've been burned too many times by a game that looked promising only to find out in less than 15 minutes that it's a poorly designed, incomplete and buggy mess.
I love indie games and want to give the developers support, but there's so much dogsh*t shovelware that the good stuff gets buried.
all these asset flip games are filling the eshop with crap. they should be bannned
I'd love to see asset-flip shovelware get removed from the eShop as much as the next guy, but technically speaking, as long as those games aren't using stolen code/assets and can pass certification (i.e don't functionally compromise the Switch hardware itself), I don't see how Nintendo can do anything about them .
Adding a review system can help, but I don't think Nintendo will ever do it as long as the concept of online harassment exists 😂
Ratings are pointless; if anyone can rate it will be abused, and if a purchase is required these games will have barely any ratings. Just be diligent, do five minutes of research before buying something. This isn't the old days where magazines and word of mouth were the only ways to know if something was good. Don't rely on algorithms or God forbid Nintendo to tell you what is good. There's also a crapton of terrible and repurposed music out there, do people get overwhelmed with that too?
Honestly, I only think Nintendo will pay attention to these asset flips if the sheer amount of them crash the eshop's crappy coding.
Its a weird situation. My opinion is that a legal loophole which I feel is definitely a bit scammy but should be allowed. If they are allowing other stuff on the eshop like the mobile game 99% loophole , then it should be aswell.
But neither should be imo
If only there were filters to block game studios and price ranges.
It’s stuff like this that is actually reducing my spending on the eShop. I no longer bother browsing the store due to the sheer deluge of crap as well as the sluggish store once you’ve scrolled down enough. PSN has less crap in the deals section, moves faster and offers a shopping cart. The eShop practically never has less than 900 titles on “sale” and takes like 20 min to just rapidly skim through.
We need A LOT more filters and I’d love the ability to ignore games. Some “developers” may cry foul about that but honestly if your game already looks like it’s crap I doubt I’ll ever be interested in buying it even after an Apple Jim Beans Binge.
Remember when Nintendo didn't approve everything for the eShop. They legit turned down a real games like The Binding of Isaac. Now they approve every garbage thing they can 🤣🤣🤣
I think it's highly immoral to pass off some free demo dev tools as your own game and then sell it. But it's technically not wrong so it will never stop. But I'm glad people like Jim Stirling and Asset Flip Warning are reporting on it.
@Shepdawg1 I would always clone awful games on steam from scratch over a weekend and release them free for the laughs.
@PBandSmelly fine with me
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